Legio Maria is an African initiated religious movement among the Luo people of western Kenya, which is an extension of an interpretation of the Three Secrets of Fatima.The religious movement was started by repeated appearances of a mystic woman to several Roman Catholic members delivering messages about the incarnation of the son of God as a black man.
FACTS ABOUT LEGIO MARIA
1. The headquarters are at St. Mary Basilica church, Got Kwer; also Got Okwon’g, Migori, Kenya.
2. They believe they are the New Christianity, the Latter Israel, a people God has made his own by sending his son to them and giving them a new covenant, the covenant of Glory made real at John Baru’s home.
3. They believe Jesus Christ has come back again on earth as Simeo Ondeto, using the names of Jesus and Ondeto interchangeably in their worship and church services.
4. They believe Simeo Ondeto is the son of God, the second Christ, the Glory of God, who has come down with his saints and angels to establish the era of entry into the presence of God.
5. They adore a black woman called Mama Maria who is believed to be Virgin Mary incarnate
6. They have their own saints such as St. Timothy Atila, St.Silvester Okweto, St.Philip Odero, St.Silas of Imbo, St. Peter Otieno, and St. Carilus Mumbo.
7. The head of the church is the pope. There have been three popes: Pope Atila Timothy (1963-1998), Chiaji Lawrende (1998-2004), Rafael Adika , Pope Laurence Ochieng’ (2020- present)
8. They use rosaries in their worship.
9. Legio Maria was legally registered in Kenya in 1966 as a church, expanded massively in the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and eventually spread to many countries in Africa.
10. They use candles in their worship and light candles even when bulbs are on or in open daylight
11. They do not wear shoes in the church because they believe in God being present in their midst
12. They use water during prayers, squirting it on the faithful as a sign of cleansing them of their sins
13. They take their children to school and have no anti-education doctrines
14. They practice monogamy
15. They occasionally perform animal sacrifices
16. According to early adherents of Legio Maria, the Virgin Mary began appearing among the Luo people in the late 1920s
17. They fly flags of Simeo Ondeto, Mama Maria and different saints in their homes and churches.
18. They erect crosses in their homes and churches, especially near or at the gates.
19. Major orders in the church are deacon, priest and bishop.
20. The Legio Maria has 60 dioceses and 450 churches in Kenya. The sect is an offshoot of the Catholic Church, with which it still shares many rituals.
21. They sing hymns and recite the rosary before an altar with pictures of Jesus, Mary, church founder Simeo Melkio Ondeto and his mother
22. The faithful speak in tongues, cast out demons, spin and fall to the ground.
23. Members also wear single-colour robes, with each colour associated with a particular saint or vocation.
24. Key symbols of the faith are wooden guns, swords and crosses, often carried by both male and female adherents.